BLOG #7: I SUPPORT BECAUSE…
I support because...
Did you know that Canterbury Festival is a charity? We hope so, but if not, we’re glad to be able to give you an insight into the many ways to support your local International Arts Festival – by interviewing just a few of our current supporters.
THE BOARD MEMBER – DAN LLOYD
Dan has been a member of Canterbury Festival’s Board of Trustees for nearly two years and along with the Festival’s Participation Manager and students at the University of Kent, programmes the Festival’s Science Strand.
What do you do?
I’m a member of academic staff at the School of Biosciences at the University of Kent. I’ve been here for 16 years and I’m currently Deputy Head of the School with around 100 staff and 800 students. Day to day, my job has real diversity; I’ll be teaching, I’ll be marking, I’ll be assessing and having meetings with both undergraduate and postgraduate students. I also meet with research collaborators relating to research projects that take place here and elsewhere and attend meetings required for my role as Deputy Head of School.
Why did you join the Board of Trustees?
I was asked to join by Keith Mander, the Chairman of the Board. He knew me from his time working at Kent and knew the work I did that crossed the boundaries between the arts and sciences, and that I was also a musician. He also knew that one of the modules I teach involves looking at issues surrounding the communication of science to the public. And based on the growing popularity of the Festival’s Science Strand, I imagine from the Festival’s perspective, my joining the Board seemed like a good fit for its needs.
What does your role as a Board Member involve?
I attend regular Board Meetings and I sit on a sub-committee of the Board – the Strategy and Planning Committee which allows for more in-depth discussion and sharing of thoughts. I also act as an ambassador for the Festival by aiming to attend as many Festival events as I can and by seeking opportunities to introduce the Festival to new audiences and raise its profile. Though if I wasn’t a Board Member, I would still do that!
Board membership gives you an inner view of the workings of a charity - not something I had understood or appreciated previously - so it’s been interesting to learn about what goes on behind the scenes.
What impact have you seen because of Canterbury Festival?
The Festival itself has a two to three week focus in the Autumn and that has a really visible impact - there are things going on which brings a real vibrancy to the city. This happens when I think we really need it; when dark nights and impending winter is setting in. There’s an enlightenment in knowing there are things going on all the time, across the city.
Perhaps the thing I appreciate most about the Festival is that tangible difference it brings to the city; it builds civic pride and community. People can say ‘we’re part of a city where exciting things happen’ and they have the opportunity to be exposed to all kinds of different people who come to Canterbury for the Festival. The value of cultural diversity is an important message for the Festival to be able to share with the local community; one I think it shares well through its artistic programming but also through its community projects throughout the year. I see the impact across the three-week Festival, but I really value the year-round community engagement. Some of this is less visible because those projects are locally placed and involve small numbers of people at a time. But the Festival is able to connect communities through the arts – communities that might otherwise be very isolated – and I think we should take great pride in that.
What’s your most memorable event or experience at the Festival?
Circa! Amazing. It was brilliant. It merged live music with the physicality of circus arts, strength and agility, and storytelling, in the spectacular surroundings of the Spiegeltent. It was the perfect combination of venue, programming and atmosphere. I remember the event so well – it was the Friday night of a very long week and I remember feeling totally exhausted and wondering whether I could muster up the energy to go. But it was so energising and so ‘heart in your mouth’ exciting. I’m so glad we booked the tickets and committed to it, rather than heading home, exhausted, and falling asleep on the sofa!
What is it about Canterbury Festival and arts and culture that interests you as a Scientist?
I’m an oboist so music has always been part of my life, as well as science. I studied music at school; I was considering whether to go to music college or whether to go to university to study science. But while I’m a scientist I’ve always appreciated the arts as something which is important to people’s lives. For me, it gives me an outlet -I know that the two hours a week I can squeeze in to go to an orchestra rehearsal is precious because you have to focus on the music that’s in front of you. The arts for me – through participation or as an audience member – is very energising.
From a professional perspective, I feel it’s important for scientists to articulate what they do, particularly to non-specialists. Science has many positive influences on society, but scientists also need to engage with communities on issues that might concern them. The arts offers many opportunities to their own routes for those conversations to take place. So, there’s an increasing movement for scientists to exploring their subjects within the context of the arts to engage different audiences. It also provides me – as an educator – the opportunity to train the next generation of scientists to be able to engage with the public, policy-makers and the media and the arts are a great way to do so. In fact, this is something the Festival does well through its Science Strand and I’d delighted that the Festival offers an opportunity to explore science within an international and artistic context.
What’s the best thing about programming the Science Strand?
One of the best things for me professionally is that I programme it with colleagues from the Festival but also with students I teach. The students do research about science events taking place across the country and which we then consider inviting to the Festival. There are some amazing events - I’m so glad we can bring them to Canterbury.
I’m also delighted that our community can take pride in the fact that there is genuinely world-leading scientific research taking place here in the city. One of the things I’ve enjoyed as part of the Festival is connecting those communities, using festival events to allow the conversations to take place. Our local scientific community do great work, with international impact on society, and it’s happening right here in Canterbury! And the neutral environment of the Festival provides an opportunity to speak to these people, have conversations and maybe do some experiments, as we did in the Cocktail Laboratory in 2016.
What events coming up in this year’s Festival Science Strand are you most excited about?
There’s lots! I’ll be looking forward to Cellular Dynamics – a musical and scientific collaboration which I’m presenting in. Due to the success of The Cocktail Laboratory last year, we are having Beer Lab @ The Foundry. I’m intrigued by the pairing of scientists and poets for Experimental Words; I’ve already got the scientists on board who are exploring issues around aging, death, infectious diseases but within the context of poetry and performance.
I’m delighted that we’ve got Pilgrim’s Hospice on board for a panel discussion, The Art of Dying Well, which will involve a series of discussions around our attitudes to death and dying. We don’t often have the conversations about this important topic, and I hope this event will provide a great opportunity for reflection and insight from a range of multi-disciplinary contexts – plus an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful work done by our hospice.
And of course, how could I not be looking forward to Who Killed Justin Bieber?